The Coming of Sin
(La visita del vicio, 1977)
José Ramón Larraz
82 min, color, English (dub)
Review © 2007 Branislav L. SlantchevA piece of artsy trash which would have been long forgotten had it not been for one particularly inspired scene involving half of a bronze horse and a full naked woman, The Coming of Sin (or, more commonly known under the exploitation title The Violation of the Bitch) comes from Larraz, the same comic-drawing, glamor-shooting, occasionally directing restless Spaniard that brought us the famous Vampyres. Although totally lacking in sleaze and keeping the erotic angle to a minimum, and despite the heroic effort to present what essentially boils down to a series of beautifully staged static images, the film cannot escape its no-budget origins. If it comes away as painterly, that's probably because Larraz had to keep the non-professional actors as far from anything that may possibly require some acting as humanly imaginable.
|Lorna copying 'La chiquita piconera' by Julio Romero de Torres||The Great "Naked Dude on a Horse" Shoot|
I have a special fondness for this film totally unaccounted for by the absence of any virtues: The Coming of Sin validates my otherwise inexcusable tendency to enjoy the odd museum for the wrong reasons. Case in point is my last visit to Córdoba when I read about this local painter, Julio Romero de Torres, and in particular his predilection for depicting turn of the century Cordoban beauties in the buff. Normally, I would not bother with some world-unknown artist (I did see one of his paintings in Barcelona's Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, so someone has heard of him), but this I could not resist. The museum essentially consists of an upper floor with several dozen paintings, of which a handful were racy and a few strikingly irreligious (nuns ministering to a naked beauty). Photography being verboten and me being the sole visitor and sporting an obvious SLR with a serious lens, I was watched very closely by the fat guy in charge of stopping tourists from making photos and thereby avoiding having to purchase postcards. (I snapped one picture anyway from behind a corner.)
|Lesbian Flamenco, the show I missed in Cordoba||Your primitive gypsy superstitions turn me on|
Why is any of this relevant? Because the film opens in that same gallery with the main character Lorna (Patricia Granada) copying the painter's "La chiquita piconera" (despite her later claim in the movie that she loves copying Goya, none of whose work is anywhere in evidence). All the paintings that form the artistic backdrop of silently smoldering sexuality are by this guy. How does this relate to the plot? I don't know, I just wanted to brag about recognizing something very few people probably would care about. But there, it validates going to that museum in the first place. Now, where's the film that will do the same for my visit to Barcelona's Museum de l'Erotica?
|Breast exam in the age before mammography||Rafael realizes that riding the horse naked has cramped his style as a desirable rapist|
The film is almost plotless. Lorna is a widow whose husband has died a long time ago in a car crash (could have been a suicide). She now lives alone in a relatively remote part of the country and spends her time copying paintings and occasionally maybe even doing some original work. She has gotten used to her solitude and has convinced herself that she actually enjoys it. (Which explains why she spends so much time lathering herself with cosmetics in the bathroom.) One day, a friend brings her gypsy maid by the name of Triana (Lidia Zuaso) and asks Lorna to keep her for the time-being. The only catch is that the (supposedly eighteen years old) Triana has some weird nightmares about a naked guy on a horse chasing her. Turns out, these are not nightmares at all because the naked guy, whom she calls Rafael (Rafael Machado), is quite real, and really rides a horse naked. For real. Naked. Rides a horse. It is not known how his testicles have fared.
|He may have failed as a rapist, but how about as my plaything?||Imaginative but not daring (if the stallion mounted the bronze horse, that would have been daring)|
Triana thinks she's cursed because some fortune teller told her that if she makes love to the guy someone will die (more likely this was told by a misfortune teller). So naturally she tries to shoot him to avoid incurring someone's death by sleeping with him. This does not quite work and in return he tries to rape her (as it turns out, for a second time). This does not work either, and in return she smacks him on the head with a pebble. This causes him to get dressed and come to Lorna's house to smoke and sip sherry. It's all very civilized for a gypsy who shacks up by the river. The nearly-raped Triana is content to stare menacingly at him and serve everybody drinks wearing nothing but an unbuttoned shirt and panties. This is part of her therapy which calls for confronting her fear of having sex with the guy (who, we should recall, has tried to rape her twice) by prancing nearly naked in close proximity to him.
|In case you missed it in the previous still, there's a naked woman in the bronze horse||Never mix cigarettes, alcohol, and sex.. oh hell, how do you say "ménage à trois" in Andalusian dialect?|
Of course, in the meantime Triana and Lorna have started up a highly intimate sexual relationship which does not seem to affect either of them at all. Lorna annoys everyone by being a self-centered bitch who can't seem to stop flaunting her superiority as an independent powerful woman. This seriously pisses off Triana although Rafael could not be reached for comment, having disappeared back to the shack and hastily undressed to jump back on the horse. There's a nearly realized ménage à trois but Lorna is so drunk she can only count to two. She has gotten hooked on good casual sex regardless of the partner's gender, but this sort of exploitation of human beings can only bring disaster. The question is how it will strike, and the answer is... I am not telling.
|This scene obviously set up just because it looked good||I am so gonna paint this!|
The Coming of Sin is characterized by that sensual ethereal dreaminess that many philistines call "being boring." The film is nothing of the sort: each time I woke up, there was a woman undressed, about to get undressed, thinking about getting undressed, or a naked dude on a horse. One time there was even a naked woman in a bronze half-horse. This is the famous scene I referred to earlier. It has nothing to do with the plot but it is beautiful. Or maybe one could rationalize it as follows: it signifies Triana's fear of having sex with the man on the horse. For this explanation to work, the horse should have mounted the bronze horse and had sex with it. But the director chickened out, so I can only guess at the purpose of the scene as it currently stands. The whole film is just a bunch of images that somehow relate to Spain (flamenco, bulls, Andalusian horses, guitar music, and a matador's capote de paseo) and can somehow be linked to sex. There were no tapas. Essentially one strangely unerotic paella.
|Hot Andalusian nights with underage table-top flamenco||Are you sure this is the way in?|
The Pagan DVD presents the film in its OAR of 1.85:1 and, as usual, is not anamorphic. The print is soft with a strong greenish cast (the screen caps on this page have been retouched). One should not expect much from these releases but it was still a downer to see that it only comes with the English dub. I would have much rather preferred to hear the film in Spanish and read the insightful dialogue in subtitles when I cared enough about it (not often). The extras include a still gallery and bio/filmography for Larraz. The real gem is a long (2000) interview with Larraz himself by Cathal Tohill of Immoral Tales fame. Larraz is funny, engaging, and quite informative. Check out his opinion of sex in his films; claims he put it there just because that was the only way to sell these low-budget films and that if you removed all the sex, the films would still work and would probably be better. He must not have had The Coming of Sin in mind. Still, a surprise that makes owning this DVD a must.
January 6, 2007